With old norms against political violence evaporating, school playground logic seems to matter most to both public and prosecutors. As street violence between white supremacist brawlers and anti-fascist counterparts has become a staple of modern U.S. political discord, the commentariat has repeatedly been reduced to asking a first-grader’s question: Who started it? Blame for initiating physical scraps at such events is often a murky thing. But it’s been assigned substantial importance ever since the 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended in murder. And now, videos published Sunday by the New York Times help recast the who-hit-who-first answers for this year’s most significant such street clash: An October fight between members of the so-called “Proud Boys” and a handful of antifascist counter-protesters outside Manhattan’s Metropolitan Republican Club. The brawl was sparked after Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes reenacted the assassination of a Japanese leftist leader inside the club. The Proud Boys are one of the more prominent organizational faces of the so-called “alt-right,” as the United States’ old strain of white nationalism has rebranded itself for the social media age, thanks in no small part to their oddness. (…)
But the Times’ videos offers fresh evidence of how things got started. They show two of the Proud Boys charging at an antifascist cohort to initiate the violence. The antifascists had sought the right-wingers out near a back exit from the GOP meeting hall, but the video shows the bottle getting launched only as the charging Proud Boys get in range and start throwing fists. Several of McInnes’ followers have since been charged with crimes by New York authorities, who have signaled their case relies on videos like these according to the newspaper. Bystander and security camera videos seem to have forced a reversal from law enforcement, which had initially made arrests only of the antifascists who were left bloodied at the scene while allowing McInnes’s crew to walk away.
via thinkprogress: Videos show Proud Boys were the aggressors in Manhattan brawl